This week on the third season premiere of Pretty Little Liars, the girls stage another post-sleepover cover-up, everyone is hanging out with serial killers in their spare time, and “A” makes a triumphant return.

When last we saw our liars Mona had finally been revealed as “A” after trying to throw Spencer off a cliff. Toby returned to Spencer’s arms, sadly with his shirt still on. Everyone chased after a black swan but no one made out with Mila Kunis. Also Maya was murdered; instead of having died of old age like I originally guessed. (I kid! Maya’s actress Bianca Lawson will still be playing high school students when she’s 80, because she is a cylon.)

The season premiere picks up five months later, after the summer and immediately throws the audience into another whodunit. Because there weren’t enough dangling plot threads and mysteries!

Pretty Little Liars is masterful at doing a lot of things well. One second the show is an entertaining teen drama, another moment it’s a suspense-filled mystery, and seconds later you’re on the edge of your seat because someone is about to get axe murdered.

The premiere blended all these elements while also dropping exposition on where the characters have been the last few months and what’s changed since we last saw everyone. It’s a pretty amazing feat to behold, so I just want to take a moment to give props to the writers. While doing so they included a haunted motel, a grave robbery, a conspiracy, weird bathing suits, shirtless and pantsless cast members, a mental institution, and a dramatic prison visit.

Just remembering everything that happened in the premiere is a challenge. The writers certainly have a lot of balls in the air right now but they juggled them masterfully this week.

The Empty Grave

The episode begins with our four favorite liars filling each other in on their summer vacations. Spencer spent the summer taking college courses and throwing dirt at Toby so he would have to take showers in her house. Hanna spent the summer cooking with Caleb, which will be the name of their eventual cooking show on public access. Mona can be an occasional special guest as long as they keep her away from the knives! Aria took a photography class, where she undoubtedly shot every picture in meaningful black and white.

And Emily? Well she spent all summer drowning her sorrows and building houses for people in the third world. Emily is honestly going through the tamest wild child phase of all time.  That doesn’t mean we don’t get some choice drunk Emily bits in the opener though. Boy do I love drunk Emily. Everything she says sounds really mean, even though it’s all still pretty complimentary. Like when she calls Aria a lightweight pixie.

When the girls wake up in the middle of the night, Emily is gone. They find her above Alison’s open grave. Someone dug up the body and Emily is the one holding the shovel. Only she can’t remember how she got there since she blacked out.

They all quickly come to the conclusion that they’re being set up once again and then bury the shovel and head to Spencer’s lake house to weather the storm. Spencer is chillingly good at coming up with crime cover-ups. One day Spencer will either be our president or we’ll all be dead by her hand.

The girls all agree the night “never happened”, even when they’re later questioned by the cops. It turns out the prosecutors were trying to get Alison’s body exhumed, but someone beat them to the punch. The person who might know who did the digging is Garrett, the possessor of the unknown number that keeps calling Spencer all episode. In exchange for getting Spencer’s mother as a lawyer, Garrett promises to tell what he knows about Allison’s killer. According to Garret as he’s being taken away, that includes who lifted the body.

Hanna is telling everyone she’s still seeing Dr. Sullivan, but really she’s going to visit Mona. She’s reading her magazines about bird prints and sitting with her, because she just wants to know what she did to make Mona hate her so much. She might be talking to dead air though, as Mona is just creepily staring off into the distance.

At the mental institution, Hanna bumps into Wren, who volunteers there. Wren, I suppose having struck out with Spencer, immediately kicks his sexy British up to 11 for Hanna. Are there not girls over 18 in all of Rosewood?

He later tells Hanna her visits are having a positive effect on Mona, but unless scurrying around a room like that little girl from The Ring is positive I’m not really seeing it. While Hanna talks, Mona looks right past her at Alison in her Vivian Darkbloom jacket holding a copy of “Lolita”.


Maybe the most shocking change since we last saw everyone is that Ella and Byron split up. Aria is worried it’s over Ezra, her former-teacher boyfriend, but Ella assures her it’s not. I’m not sure why this shocked me, considering Bryon’s former cheating ways, but I really was surprised they had broken up off-screen.

Meanwhile Ezra and Aria are reminiscing about when they first met. She: just an underage girl in a dive bar for no apparent reason in the middle of the day. He: just the attractive future teacher of her English class. Then they romantically hooked up in the bar’s bathroom. It’s like Romeo and Juliet, only with worse hygiene. The two decide to celebrate their anniversary by being pretentious and making out in another bathroom, so basically by doing what they do all the time anyway.

After Aria gets pulled into the police station she invites Ella to tag along. Ella’s face really says it all, and it’s amazing. I’d like a small picture-in-picture of Ella’s face reacting to this whole show, like an Ella-centric pop up video.

Recreating the Scene

Spencer is also busy between pawing at Toby’s shirtless chest. Seriously, thank you so much Pretty Little Liars for understanding on a deep level what we want from this show. Also, thank you Spencer. This episode alone she got both Spencer AND Emily out of their clothes. Spencer is like a one-woman nudity machine.

When not making out with Toby Spencer has been returning to the Bates Motel to “A’s” secret shrine of insanity. Why?  To recreate the horror show that was “A’s” creepy room. It’s CSI: Spencer edition!

It’s very insane on a couple of different levels. 1.) Spencer is going to the creepiest place in Rosewood, which we already know is a town entirely made up of serial killers and borderline molesters, alone. 2.) She has apparently made a fancy, true to scale computer model of the room. Listen I know Spencer, unlike Hanna, understands the concept of control-A but I don’t buy she could come up with complex computer modeling by herself. 3.) It looks like the place is now for sale so on top of it being the creepiest place on earth, it’s now abandoned.

Spencer hasn’t given up on finding out the truth, or finding out more information on the black swan. Most importantly, we learn the girls have been lying to Emily these last few months. They told Emily they destroyed the creepy “A” lair but truthfully the place had been cleared out when they got back. The “A” conspiracy grows deeper!

As the episode ends, the car they all came in is filled to the brim with pictures of the girls standing above Alison’s empty grave. And you know what happens next. Chirp! It’s a text!  It reads: “Mona played with dolls, I play with body parts. Game on b*tches.- A”

Best Suspicious Person Cameo:
Lucas, looking like the cross between a non-sexy vampire and an extra from Breaking Bad. What is he up to?

Worst Outfit: Who else but Aria could rock a bikini with an overall jumper and knee high boots?

Best Harry Potter Reference: “So basically Ezra is like Lord Voldemort.” Not unless Voldemort was secretly dating Harry Potter.

Best Creepy Car: This is a toss-up, but for the mystery factor I’m going to have to give it to the 50s style car Emily just barely remembers.

What did you think of the episode? Who is the black swan? How is Lucas involved? What happened to Emily when she blacked out? Share your theories in the comments!

Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of ABC Family)

Morgan Glennon

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV